Fallout: New Vegas character build guide

One of the hardest parts of Fallout: New Vegas is actually choosing what sort of character to play. There are so many basic archetypes to choose from and then there are almost infinite variations on exactly how you build your character that this game can be daunting to even start up. Here we have gathered up a bunch of basic character builds for the interested gamers to consult. Obviously we make no claims that these are “perfect” builds but they’re fairly well optimized to fit certain roles.

We’ve tried to include a fair variety of builds for players to choose from when picking from these but it’s very unlikely we’ve thought of everything. So just remember that the best build you can make in this game is the one you create especially for yourself. For example this writers’ personal build is something he jokingly refers to as “The Chatty Sniper” – it takes Small Frame, Trigger Discipline and Tags Guns, Sneak and Speech.

There are a few things to note about the builds listed below:

About laser builds: When making a laser using character it doesn’t necessarily require its own unique build. You can simply have the lasers replace the weapons from almost any other build. So a sniper type could take Energy Weapons and use those as his sniping instruments. But it does help to give yourself Science to aid in recharging energy cells. Barter is also arguably more helpful than Repair since you won’t find many laser weapons early on so you want to have enough money to pay for repairs.

Another important thing to take note of is Hardcore mode. Take note that it isn’t actually all that difficult, merely a bit more complicated. The trick here is that you must always be aware of the various extra stats in this mode. Sleeping, eating and drinking are constantly required but making sure you have the supplies when you need them can be quite tricky.

Lastly, be aware that you can always replace a suggested perk with a select few other perks: Swift Learner, Intense Training, Comprehension, Educated or Tag! The Perks listed are simply suggestions, and  you can quite easily replace them with one of these. Also more than 15 of them are listed simply to show you which are suggested for the character build in question. 

Check out the rest of our Fallout: New Vegas guides right here:

Fallout: New Vegas Super Review | Companion Character Guide | Snow Globe Guide 


Melee Warrior

A melee character is definitely a heck of a challenge in the Fallout games. Many of the enemies are stronger and more dangerous in melee than you are, so it’s a risk every time you get near them; also, Deathclaws. The hard part to a melee character is that you must wear light armor if you wish to close in on enemies fast enough that their guns won’t tear you to shreds but when forced into a heads up battle against multiple foes with guns light armor won’t help you too much.

Playing this character can be somewhat difficult if you’re not good at the game. You’re going to need to use strong weapons, target enemies vital points and then slice away at them. Since VATs only allows you to target the enemy in general you’ll need to do things manually. Aim for enemy limbs or their head when slicing away so as to hamper their ability to fight back. When fighting other melee opponents be sure to use VATs since those attacks are unblockable and be sure to block often.

Strength: 7
Perception: 4
Endurance: 6
Charisma: 5
Intelligence: 6
Agility: 5
Luck: 7

Tagged Skills

Melee Weapons


Heavy Handed


Swift Learner
Black Widow / Lady Killer
Cherchez la Femme / Confirmed Bachelor
Travel Light (if using Light Armor)
Bloody Mess
Living Anatomy
Super Slam
Fast Metabolism
Piercing Strike
Silent Running
Unstoppable Force

With this build we’re doing our best to do as much damage to enemies as quickly as possible. Most of the Perks we’re taking are giving us damage bonuses against particular types of enemies: Hunter and Entomologist will grant you damage bonuses on animals, notably against Geckos and Cazadors. Perks like Black Widow / Lady Killer and Cherchez la Femme / Confirmed Bachelor as well as Bloody Mess and Living Anatomy will get you up a very nice damage bonus against all humanoids.

The rest of the perks will grant you bonuses to damage or help you with penetrating enemy Damage Thresholds. Travel Light and Silent Running will make getting the jump on enemies a whole lot easier. When paired up with Heavy Hitter and Kamikaze you can easily get the jump on an enemy, hit them for a Sneak Attack critical and then use VATs to murder the crap out of them before they can fight back.

Partners: Since you’ll be in melee, Rex is somewhat redundant so you’ll want Ed-E instead. As for your humanoid companion, Boone is one of the best; his incredible sniper abilities will compliment you well. However going with Arcade Gannon will grant you extra healing from all sources (always helpful) and Raul the Ghoul will ensure that you spend less time worrying about equipment maintenance. Choose wisely.


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  • The1nherit - May 18, 2013 10:07 p.m.

    Very proud of my Melee Character. After my character drinks rushing water, injects GRX, and conducts attacks with Gehenna, my character deals out over 700 damage a second while sustaining minimal damage due to all the DT perks. After injecting a full days worth of GRX I raided Caesar's tent and made short work of the situation. My Character's Special Stats Strength 10 Perception 6+ Endurance 10 Charisma 4 Intelligence 10 Agility 10 Luck 3 All perks related to melee attacks, DT and piromania. Piromania makes Gehenna a more powerful weapon compared to blade of the west. Knockdown perk allows you to go toe to toe with deathclaws, even the Alpha Male and Alpha Female. However, I play on veryhard hardcore and I admittedly die if they get the first hit in. Oh and Ulysses is much easier to beat.
  • nikko-cook - January 4, 2015 11:04 p.m.

    agreed. made my character max endurance early on just to get into any kind of fight and live through it. unarmed, melee, bulletstorm, light shows. didn't matter. special: 10 strength 10 Perception 10 Endurace 10 Charisma 10 Intelligence 10 Agility 6 luck i went toe to toe with the legendary deathclaw using pushy a unique displacer glove. combine that with psycho, slasher, med x, sugar bombs, nuka victory, ultrajet, jet, rocket, dixons jet, trail mix, true police stories, daturas hide, nuka quartz and watch it's hp drop fast. lol did him in on one vats chain if you have turbo use it to minimize the time to get to him though. my char wasn't even designed to fight melee originally lol. just turned out that way cause of all the perks, implants etc. had to wear remnants power armor though cause he hits so blistering hard. woo for all us very hard hardcore players. :D
  • GanjaFallout - February 28, 2013 7:30 a.m.

    Hope nobody minds but i'd like to put my thoughts out there so here's a good all round starter for fallout. My current build started off 5 strength, 4 Perception, 6 Endurance, 3 Charisma, 9 Intelligence, 4 Agility, 9 Luck. It's a good base from my experience and i can pretty much work it any way i wanted with the perk intense training, i may want to work on my endurance to fit implants and further the weapon style of choice. usually i think with skills you got 2 main ones to choose from either science or lockpicking they both help in their own ways but pretty much resolve the same situations sometimes there are places you can only lockpick ( if you want the gobi sniper for example you need it on 100! ) or you got science which i'm sure gets you places too i just can't think of any at the moment anyway i personally prefer both tho some might consider this a waste of skill points but it comes in handy and you can get extra EXP by hacking computers corresponding to a door you can also pick lock, double EXP it's just that easy and it adds up if you explore the wasteland, explore it real good now. Now deciding your other tags is crucial because you only get 1 chance to repick and you want to be sure you got the right one done one might choose to further 1 skill set that relates to weapons this would be wise. Now 1 left you can splurge this wherever you want it, I recommend medicine, sneak, speach or survival you can choose whatever path you wish to follow but these skills each have their merit for tagging and usually later in the game you can tag an extra skill i choose repair as its of most use then tho it can be useful early in the game its not going to contribute too much that early on. Now for Traits at the moment i favor Wild Wasteland i just love it tho its good to play without it first time round i guess tho i didn't and skilled seems to be alright you can always get a perk to cancel out that -10% EXP and that +5 to every skill is quite a lot at that small stage of that game thats like 2 extra levels worth of skill for a little EXP which is bountiful in the wasteland so hope this ain't too long and you enjoy my thoughts on a good all round start to fallout
  • JReezyBeezy - October 1, 2012 12:31 p.m.

    I tried to fallow the heavy weapons build since I've never played through the game using them. But when i got to lvl 2 I realized I couldnt get Rapid Reload for the First perk Choice. It requires an Agility of 5, but in the special section its only at 4. I just wana let anyone thats planing on fallowing this build and planing on getting the rapid reload perk at lvl 2 that they should take a point from Perception and add it to Agility.
  • giggitygil - November 22, 2011 2:21 p.m.

    Suicide Nuker S 4 P 5 E 5 C 5 I 5 A 9 L 9 Traits Kamikaze Wild Wasteland Tag skills Guns Sneak Explosices
  • Jude71681 - July 1, 2011 4:46 p.m.

    Great guide & all, but should be updated as the DLC comes down the line.
  • rjazzy - May 13, 2011 11:44 p.m.

    Pretty good guide. Just one question does anyone know what the character is wearing in the good thief guide second picture? The one where he is shooting a super-mutant.
  • chupamedias - March 9, 2011 7:57 p.m.

    hey, and that golden cowboy repeater? where do you get that weapon from?
  • rory-patrick-mcguinness - September 17, 2011 6:12 p.m.

    how you get the golden cowboy repeater is with weapon mods they can cost a fair bit of caps but it makes the gun much better there are 3 weapon mods in total for the cowboy repeater. i hope i helped
  • Hoccus - January 15, 2011 11:44 a.m.

    Perks: Confirmed Bachelor/Black Widow Educated Bloody mess Commando Hand Loader Cowboy (Switch for Weapon Handling if pure sniper) Finesse Jury Rig Sniper Better Criticals Action Boy 1 & 2 Grim Reaper Sprint Math Wrath Nerves of Steel (not needed imo)
  • Hoccus - January 15, 2011 8:41 a.m.

    If you're looking for specialized builds i dont see why you wouldn't specialize your SPECIAL skills too. For my gun "dont touch me" build I went: Str: 5 (6) Per: 5 (6) End: 5 Cha: 1 Int: 9 (10) Agi: 8 (10) Luc: 7 (8) Str: 6 with implant which allows me to weild all the lever action guns i want. I use cowboy perk that gives me +25% dmg with lever action weapons. You can replace that perk with the one that gives you -2 to str requirements if you're doing strick sniper build instead for the AMR. Per: 6 with Implant gives me enough to get the perks I want for build. End: 5 gives me enough to get 5 implants that I need for my build. Cha: 1 worthless stat in my opinion. Boost your speech/barter etc, but not necessary. Int: 10 with implant. eek out as many skill points as I can. Agi: 10 with implant and small frame perk. It's a great stat as it boost gun skill, speed, action point regen, etc. VATS isn't needed in the open terrain, but it's great for indoors where you are confined in space. So the more action points and the faster they regen, the better off you are when you're running with low HP and light armor. Luck: 8 with implant. bumps all skills a lil and increase crit%. I put all left over points here. Perks mostly deal with increasing %dmg and VATS accuracy and AP. Also hand loaded bullets are totally worth the trouble of making :)
  • DeimonWinters - January 13, 2011 8:28 p.m.

    I found my best build was Strength: 6 Perception: 5 Endurance: 7 Charisma: 3 Intelligence: 9 Agility: 5 (+1 from Small Frame) Luck: 5 I set it up like this so i could get 7 upgrades from the doc later on in the game. You get 1 upgrade to any stat plus 2 special upgrades if you have the caps but you only get 1 upgrade per endurance you have. So i think its worth it to up your end for that purpose and up your intel for more stat points. Plus if you want the strong back perk you need 6 str. Regardless of what kind of char i'm playing i usually set up my char that way since i know i'll be able to play a good game
  • misfit119 - December 23, 2010 2:19 a.m.

    Oh and that unarmed build is slightly off. It is more designed for battling humans in something of an unarmed, low armor monk type build not for fighting the animals in the Wasteland so in that regard it somewhat fails. I managed to clear out the NCR Correctional Facility by myself, right from the start of the game, with that build. The perception helps with seeing enemies coming before they can hear you so you can re-enter sneak mode and then you go in and take them down. Using just that and some looted Buffout I managed to wipe out that place. It's not meant for a toe-to-toe bruiser and if that's how you're going to fight, then yes it wouldn't work. At all.
  • misfit119 - December 23, 2010 2:15 a.m.

    The reason all of these kits place average stats is because stats don't matter. At all. Or let me correct that, positive stats don't matter. When you go into negatives you start to dramatically hamper your character while going into the positives gives you almost no benefit beyond a one or two point increase to the associated stats. As a matter of fact the single best build in the game is probably 9 INT, 9 Luck and then put the rest wherever you like. Then simply tag whatever skills you're going to use for that build. This isn't like Fallout 1 & 2 where stats could have a huge impact on the variety of skills so going to extremes is, to put it bluntly, incredibly worthless. This is doubly true for new players who this guide is mostly aimed at. Also gimping Luck is, to put it mildly, beyond silly. Sneak attacking won't help you when an all out fight occurs where you can't sneak unless you're going to find and use Stealth Boys every time a face to face fight breaks out. The only build that should deemphasize luck is one that's going to use heavy handed as you can then use weapons that don't critical in the first place (a build I just recently discovered) Otherwise it's just really silly.
  • BrokenJoe - December 18, 2010 11:57 a.m.

    Or: Fallout: New Vegas Character: Wasteland Gunslinger STR: 7 PER: 8(+) Four Eyes END: 7 CHR: 2 (He’s going to be blasting his way through, not talking) INT: 8 AGL: 7 LCK: 2 (Gonna get all my criticals sneaking) This character will be able to pick up any type of gun and do work with it, though I won’t tag Energy Weapons, I will put points into them. He will be designed not to talk his way through missions, but to shoot his way through. Forget the NCR and the Legion, this guy will spread fear on his own. TAG Skills: Guns (Obviously, as I am called The GUNslinger) Repair (I do like to keep my guns in good condition) Sneak (Allows me to get a critical when crouched) Traits: Trigger Discipline (I’m not bothered about how fast I shoot; I want to be so accurate that I’m popping heads all the time!) Four Eyes (Obviously, I need high perception if I’m going to know where enemies are and have less bullet spread. Plus, it effects energy weapons; and I do like me some energy weapons.) Again, I hope to see people giving me advice as I will show my gratitude :)
  • BrokenJoe - December 15, 2010 6:07 p.m.

    I haven't got this game yet, but I know a lot about it. Once I get New Vegas, this is going to be my character build: STR: 6 PRE: 7(+) Four Eyes END: 7 CHR: 5 INT: 7 AGL: 7 LCK: 2 Traits: Four Eyes Wild Wasteland TAG skills: Guns Sneak Repair I will also be putting points into lockpick and speech. If you can, please offer tips to me on how I could change the build to my advantage.
  • Fluffynuts - November 21, 2010 1:22 a.m.

    This guide's slightly innacurate. Firstly, you need about 8 stremgth and no more than 3 perception. This little perception lets you know they're there if you can see them, which, in a melee build is all you need, seeing as you will not always be trying to shoot them from a distance when using melee weapons. Another reccomended build is not to use sneak. Sneak's fine for smuggling, and a few little options. But i have played fallout NV and 3 for a long time, and the best way to build a character is always to have science, repair and speech. Repair is better than barter, because if you use melee weapons you maintain ranged weapons and sell them off easily, aswell as bumper swords being pretty rare it severely helps to use decent repair skills in order to give one max damage which, once you get it, will last until hoover dam. Also, the original poster reccomends light armour? You will always be under fire, but heavy armour is ALWAYS superior because it will atleast keep you safe as you move towards shooting targets, but it is also beter for melee weapons protection once you get close, and it also protects from light armours huge flaws, like explosives and fire. There's plenty of reasons to choose science and speech. but personally i think almost every other skill isn't worth it save barter only, which serves to nothing seeing as it's possible to have 4k+ caps by Nipton. I hope this is helping any of you, but for a heads up, this optimises my gameplay with a melee character and i can't garuntee it does the same for you, but follow whatever you think i've said that fits your play. Thanks for reading
  • Fro4show - November 18, 2010 11:12 p.m.

    [My Unarmed Build] Str-8 -Partners:ED-e, Boone per-1 -Tag:Unarmed, Sneak, Speech end-8 -Traits: Heavy Handed, Wild wasteland(4 kicks) chr-4 -Perks: Im not level 30 yet so Im not going to deal with int-8 those agi-7 -Implants:Sub-dermal, Monocyte Breeder luk-4
  • ImanSain - November 14, 2010 6:02 p.m.

    Not the Bots, the Turrets, I would use the Turrents, and the Consoles to activate security bots. Nothing says "Daddy's Home!" like sneaking into a room of Talon Company, and taking them all out with their own turrets, or better yet Enclave Troopers. Or you can sneak up on one with "The Dismemberer" Axe and have some fun.

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